Md. officials 'livid' over escape of Dontay Carter

January 19, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

Gov. William Donald Schaefer ordered "a full investigation into Dontay Carter's escape from a Baltimore courthouse yesterday and vowed to fire any corrections worker found negligent in guarding the 19-year-old convicted killer.

Mr. Schaefer, who spent the day in Pittsburgh, landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport just after 5 p.m. to be greeted with news of Carter's jump through a bathroom window.

Already, the phones in the State House were ringing with calls from citizens angry and worried that Carter -- convicted in a murder and two kidnappings and on trial for a third abduction -- was back on the streets.

"I want a full investigation into this," Mr. Schaefer said through a spokeswoman. "If there is negligence connected to this, there will be a dismissal."

"I think the man should have been at least in leg irons," said Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. "It is tremendously sad that this happened, especially for the Pilius family." He added that he expects the state to investigate.

Other elected officials were outraged.

"Those Department of Corrections employees should be fired immediately," said Baltimore state Sen. George W. Della Jr. "I can't imagine those employees weren't aware of his history. I can't imagine he wasn't in leg irons and in handcuffs. They couldn't possibly have been following procedure.

"Why in God's name wouldn't they have him in leg irons?" Mr. Della asked. "Why in God's name wouldn't they take him to a confined area if indeed he had to go to the bathroom? There should be no room for mistakes in a situation like this."

Baltimore Del. Elijah Cummings said he was "livid." A lawyer familiar with courthouse procedures, Mr. Cummings said he found it unbelievable that someone with Carter's notoriety was not in shackles outside the courtroom.

"I can't understand why a guard would not have accompanied him in to the bathroom. Forget privacy. When you've got a man who's been convicted of what this man did, forget privacy."

And he agreed with Senator Della: "Whoever is responsible for this should be raked across the coals.

"It's tough enough that our police and state's attorney work very hard to get these guys convicted," Mr. Cummings said. "And once they've got them convicted -- all that work and all that money -- we can't keep them in jail?"

Baltimore City Council President Mary Pat Clarke perhaps has had a closer look at Carter than any other elected official: Last Monday, she was in the pool of citizens from which the latest Carter jury was selected.

"I stood right beside him in the courtroom and I testified to the judge I could not be impartial," Mrs. Clarke said. She was not chosen to hear the trial.

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